4th Edition of the Bechara and Carmen Obegi Prize for Creativity and Innovation

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

For the fourth consecutive year, Saint Joseph University of Beirut (USJ) hosted the “Bechara and Carmen Obegi Prize for Creativity and Innovation” award ceremony on Tuesday, February 13, 2024, at the François S. Bassil Auditorium, located at the Campus of Innovation and Sport on Damascus Street. Organized by USJ’s EC² Entrepreneurship and Skills Center, the Faculty of Economics (FSE), and the Fondation USJ, the event drew an enthusiastic crowd including esteemed guests such as Prof. Salim Daccache SJ, USJ Rector, Dr. Riad Obegi, President of Banque BEMO, Dana Obegi, President of the Obegi Group, Mia Tamaz, family members, friends, Prof. Jean-Francois Verne, FSE Dean, represented by Dr. Lara Ghorayeb Haddad, lecturer at the FSE, Joumana Hobeika, President of the FSE Alumni Association, ten student teams, and a multitude of USJ students and supporters. This year’s edition focused on the theme of social impact entrepreneurship.

Dr. Ursula El Hage, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Skills (EC²) and of the Career and Placement Office (SIP), underscored that the student-entrepreneurs embarked on their journey with a higher purpose: to solve problems and make a meaningful impact on society, rather than merely pursuing trophies.

Dr. Lara Ghorayeb Haddad delivered a speech on behalf of Prof. Jean-Francois Verne, praising the Obegi Group’s dedication to supporting USJ and its students. She emphasized the importance of innovation in Lebanon’s economy, highlighting the pivotal role played by creative and innovative entrepreneurs in its resilience.

Cynthia-Maria Ghobril Andréa, Director of Fondation USJ, expressed her gratitude for the Obegi Prize, a symbol of achievement and generosity made possible by Dr. Obegi’s longstanding support. The renewal of the partnership for the next three years was celebrated with the signing of a new Memorandum of Understanding.

Prof. Salim Daccache commended the entrepreneurial spirit behind the innovation competition, highlighting its integral role in the university experience. He emphasized USJ’s commitment to providing not only academic knowledge but also an environment conducive to the cultivation of new ideas. The Rector encouraged students to pursue entrepreneurial ventures, recognizing their potential to make a significant impact on society.

Dr. Riad Obegi asserts that an innovator embodies rebellion, challenging established norms and conventions. Contrary to a revolutionary, the innovator seeks not to upend the status quo, but to reform it from within. Dr. Obegi urges young individuals to embrace generosity in sharing their talents while advocating for risk-taking supported by their loved ones.

Following a rigorous assessment based on innovation, market potential, and financial viability, the jury, comprising Krystel Khalil from Berytech, Youssef Abou Hamad from SIP and EC², Dr. Lara Ghorayeb Haddad from FSE, and Hala Nasr from Banque BEMO, awarded top honors to Apple House, with Awfarli and Beyond Barriers securing second and third place, respectively.

  1. Apple House: Founded by Firas Yehya, holder of a Bachelor in Business Administration and Management from the Faculty of Business Administration and Management (FGM), and Ahmad Sweid, currently pursuing a Master in Management at FGM. Apple House addresses surplus organic apple crops by transforming them into various apple products, reducing waste, and increasing farmers’ incomes.
  2. Awfarli: Co-founded by Hussein El Hajj and Jalal Harb, both third-year computer science students at the National Institute of Telecommunications and Computer Science (INCI). Awfarli is a mobile application available on the Play Store and App Store. It helps Lebanese citizens save money on shopping by providing instant price comparisons between different supermarkets, enabling users to identify the cheapest options.
  3. Beyond Barriers: Founded by Abir Hallik, a third-year orthopedagogy student at the Lebanese Institute of Educators (ILE). Beyond Barriers is an online platform offering information on inclusive schools and universities, trained shadow teacher services, adaptation plans, and personalized support. The platform aims to provide easily accessible solutions tailored to the needs of individuals with special needs.

Congratulations to the recipients!

Click here for photos.

Read also in French: Prix Béchara et Carmen Obegi pour la créativité et l’innovation dans sa quatrième édition